[Marxism] Re: Supporting all anti-imperialists?

Ed George edgeorge at usuarios.retecal.es
Wed Feb 18 02:13:36 MST 2004

The best thing I ever read on this was a post from erstwhile list
contributor Lou Paulsen on the war in Afghanistan from two years back.
It so clear and well argued that I am appending the key paragraph here.
What is important here is the context (although it is certainly true
that the current war is really a continuation of the one he is talking

Lou wrote:

'I absolutely do not believe, by the way, that favouring the victory of
Afghanistan over the imperialist offensive is just some sort of
unpleasant duty or sacrifice imposed on us by the ghost of Lenin or
something.  It bears directly on our practical situation.  We are in the
thick of an antiwar movement which is growing very rapidly and bringing
in an exciting new layer of young people.  Well, the future of that
movement depends mostly on the course of the war.  IF the US
imperialists were to win a quick victory tomorrow, destroying al-Qaeda's
forces, murdering the Taliban, and imposing a new government, without
suffering too much elsewhere, this movement would dissipate in
discouragement, and the struggle world-wide would ebb.  IF the US
imperialists encounter serious obstacles, though, and the war drags on
without a victory, then the working class, fighting for survival in the
economic crisis, and being forced to pay the costs of the war in blood
and money, will become ever more forced into a confrontation with our
ruling class.  Finally, IF something were to happen now which were to
actually force the US to abandon the war against Afghanistan right now -
some military disaster, some political side-effect elsewhere like a
revolt in Arabia - it would inflame and embolden the struggle against
U.S. imperialism world-wide!  It would advance the struggle by years in
an instant!  So, in very practical terms:  THE BETTER THE AFGHANS DO ON
irony is that by standing up to the U.S. and refusing to surrender, the
Taliban are doing us U.S. Marxists much more good than we, on our side,
have yet been able to do for Afghanistan.'

(The full post can be read at:

What about the assessment we in the imperialist west make about the
strategy and methods of those engaging in the anti-imperialist struggle?
The way I see it is this. Even if it is the case that for Marxists the
only force that is capable of winning and guaranteeing anti-imperialist
goals is that which has most interest in winning and guaranteeing them -
the working class on a global scale - this does not mean that we raise
the political character of those waging the struggle as a _precondition_
for supporting them.  It is not in general miraculously revealed as
transparently obvious to anti-imperialist fighters that the path to
their liberation lies through the gate of socialist revolution. This is
something that is learned, or not learned, in struggle. The most
consistent anti-imperialists will learn this positively: it is not a
question of either 'raising the green flag' or struggling to create a
government representative of the working class and farmers, it is (as
Néstor rightly keeps pointing out to us) that the only way to guarantee
the struggle to raise the green flag _is_ to struggle to create  a
government representative of the working class and farmers (and this is
what 'permanent revolution' really is: real permanent revolution, not
the sad, impossibilist 'socialism now' parody of it that gets paraded
about these days). That this will be learned or not learned will be a
practical question (as it has been historically), in the struggle; that
groups in the west want to make some formal commitment to socialism a
precondition for support of anti-imperialist groups in struggle (and I'm
not accusing Domhnall of this, of course) shows just how abstract and
tenuous their own conception of socialism, and how we get there, really

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